Under the Taliban, there was no rule of law or independent judiciary. Ad hoc rudimentary judicial systems were established based on Taliban interpretation of Islamic law. Murderers were subjected to public executions and thieves had a limb or two (one hand, one foot) severed. Adulterers were stoned to death in public. Taliban courts were said to have heard cases in sessions that lasted only a few minutes. Prison conditions were poor and prisoners were not given food. Normally, this was the responsibility of the prisoners' relatives who were allowed to visit to provide them with food once or twice a week. Those who had no relatives had to petition the local council or rely on other inmates.
In non-Taliban controlled areas, many municipal and provincial authorities relied on some form of Islamic law and traditional tribal codes of justice. The administration and implementation of justice varied from area to area and depended on the whims of local commanders or other authorities, who could summarily execute, torture, and mete out punishments without reference to any other authority.
As of 2002, Afghanistan's judicial system was fragmented, with conflicts between such core institutions as the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, and attorney general's office. In addition, the judicial system's infrastructure was destroyed; the absence of adequate court or ministry facilities, basic office furniture, and minimal supplies made substantive progress difficult. There are also tensions between religious and secular legal training with regard to appointments of new judicial personnel. Until Afghanistan's new constitution is adopted, the country's basic legal framework will consist of its 1964 constitution and existing laws and regulations to the extent that they accord with the Bonn Agreement of 2001 and with international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party. The Ministry of Justice is charged with compiling current Afghan laws and assessing their compatibility with international standards. However, texts of Afghan laws are largely unavailable, even among attorneys, judges, law faculty, and government agencies such as the Ministry of Justice. While in power, the Taliban burned law books. There was no adequate law library in the country as of June 2002.